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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The History of Kane: Part 1
(Birth of the Ultimate Monster)

April 3, 2006 by Sev M.


I know that there have been numerous articles on Kane already, usually about how he has been used incorrectly or that he deserves more opportunity. And for the most part I completely agree. This is my first attempt at a column, and I figured I could use this opportunity to go in depth about Kane's gimmick, his high and lows, and show just why he deserves more than the silly ways he's been used. I wished to show a true extent of exactly how badly he's fallen into misuse, and how great his potential was and still is. Initially I tried to write one column but it proved too long, so I divided it into multiple articles. If nothing else, perhaps this one column will provide some newer viewers with some details of Kane's past or give older ones a trip down memory lane. Hopefully in the future, I will have the chance to cover Kane's best years. I hoped this detailed article would provide a larger or clearer picture of how far "the mighty have fallen". It's such a pity.

When I think of Kane, I think of what is probably the biggest missed opportunity in WWE history regarding a single person. Glen Jacobs is a phenomenal athlete for a 7 foot wrestler, and Kane has been pretty over for much of his career. Yet he is one of the most overlooked people in recent memory. Apparently "the powers that be" never really considered him to be "championship material". And that is an immense shame, not only because it would be an innovated change, but it is one of the most appalling wastes of talent ever. To this day, he is effectively the only active former Champion without a real title reign. A 24 hour hiccup in "The Age of Austin" doesn't really constitute a memorable era of WWF history. The strange thing is that Kane seems to be considered the "almost champion" guy. Over the years he's come agonizingly close to winning the belt again, and I mean agonizingly. In fact, on-screen, he's probably been screwed out of the belt almost as many times as the Undertaker in only about half as much time. Actually giving him the belt and letting him keep it can't be that big of an extra step can it" Kane certainly deserves to be World Champion; he's worked towards it for years, and has stuck through some of the stupidest angles in wrestling history. Additionally, he certainly has the wrestling abilities worthy of being a champ. In the ring, Kane can be very entertaining and his mic skills are actually underrated. But Kane has been utilized in some of the worst ways possible during his WWE tenure. The Kane gimmick was very good to start off; but in the time since, his character has been made into a joke, several times in fact. And sadly this has really diminished his hopes of ever being viewed as a credible title belt holder at the top of this business. Yet the Big Red Machine continues to go on trying being the monster he was meant to be (if only they'd really let him), in hopes of one day that his trail of destruction will lead him to the top of the mountain. The character "Kane" has had both great monster pushes and horrendous jobber roles. The purpose of these articles is to chronicle the peaks and slumps of Kane's WWE career, and to examine if he has any hopes for the future of getting that elusive title reign. Some might think that Kane wining the gold is inevitable. I mean, how can they continue to deny him again and again and for so long" Well I fear "the powers" actually may do so, for they seem to regard him as an occasional title contender, but never anything more.

Glen Jacobs made very little impression prior to his Kane persona. "Isaac Yankem DDS" was not much of anything except a rather physically large jobber who was supposed to be Jerry Lawler's dentist. I remember Bret Hart, Diesel and Undertaker going over him in succession (and they certainly weren't the only ones) soon after I first started watching WWF. The only thing vaguely impressive I can remember about him in any of those matches was him booting Kevin "Diesel" Nash over the ropes in one match. Then there was the "Fake Diesel". Oh boy. At the time Kevin Nash was one of my favourite wrestlers, so seeing unimpressive imitations of him and Razor Ramon, both of whom seemed unable to win a match cleanly, was disappointing to say the least. Fortunately, better days would come. This section is mainly about the immediate impact and arrival of Kane. Ironically enough while I was in the process of finishing this, WWE.com added an old Taker-Kane Promo to their website which really captures the atmosphere of this time period well.

At Bad Blood '97, the main event was Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in the awesome debut of the Hell in a Cell match. Near the finish of the gruelling encounter, Taker floored a HBK with a vicious chair shot. He stood over a bloodied Michaels, triumphant, as Vince McMahon, the commentator, (how long ago does that seem") announced in anticipation: "It's all over....now will come the Tombstone!" At that moment the arena went dark. After a brief pause a dim red light began to flow through the stage and eerie organ music was heard. Everyone was totally confused. Back at the entrance ramp Paul Bearer entered through a wall of fire, laughing manically, while a massive intimidating figure in a mask and a red and black suit menacingly strode down to the ring behind him. "-and that's gotta be.... that's gotta be KANE!" was Vince McMahon's excited exclamation. Paul Bearer had previously announced that Undertaker had a long lost brother called "Kane", who had been horrifically burned in a fire that the Undertaker set long ago and was now back for revenge, but no-one had yet seen him Everyone was stunned at the appearance of this monster, and none more so than the Undertaker. He just looked at Kane with complete shock and amazement as the 7 foot behemoth, tore the door off the hell, entered the ring and stared him down.

"He's huge. He's as big as the Undertaker!" - Jerry Lawler words rang in everyone's ears.

He then proceeded to Tombstone the Undertaker in the centre of the ring allowing Shawn to crawl over him for the win. And thus the monster was born, and a great feud begun. In his debut months, Kane received the biggest monster push in the history of the company. Since the Undertaker had at first "refused to fight his flesh and blood" despite constant goading, Kane went on a destructive rampage attacking superstars at random and absolutely decimating them. I first witnessed him shortly after his introduction. He came down to the ring where he beat up, then double chokeslamed the Hardy Boys.

"Whoa! Who is this"" I remember seeing it at the time and I was immediately awed. That only increased when I saw what was to come. Sure, I hated the guy; after all, he and Paul Bearer were tormenting the Phenom. But the when he would walk down to the ring and stare at a superstar for a few minutes while they would futilely try to attack him it was an amazing sight. Kane would be showing no response in the few moments before completely destroying them like never before. And these weren't regular squashes either. People like the powerful Ahmed Johnson got in no offence at all! Kane took a drop kick from a Crush (Brian Adams) and didn't react! All the people punching him hurt their hands more than him! The complete and total domination was stunning. His violence "sidelined" many notable superstars, not just jobbers. He was like a force of nature; Kane would just swoop in on whatever poor soul happened to be in the ring at any given time. The crowd was captivated by the new monster too: whenever the lights suddenly went out; the audience reacted in big way during the few seconds of silence that preceded the organ music and red aura. Paul Bearer, with perfected evil glee, would always lead the mysterious demon of a man toward the doomed wrestler in the ring. During this time, Kane did not speak, so Paul Bearer did all the promos: mocking Taker for his "cowardice" and so forth which was usually followed by physical abuse from Kane. These promos were quite effective, because the fans did really get to their feet whenever Taker would tease finally fighting back.

When 1998 arrived, Kane screwed Undertaker out of the WWF title in another (casket) match with Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble. After first helping his brother take out the lumberjacks, Kane locked Undertaker inside the casket and set it on fire, while posing victoriously. (No, Randy Orton wasn't first.) Afterwards the Undertaker had vanished ... again. So Kane just continued his same path: destroying superstars randomly while Paul Bearer boasted how his "personal instrument of destruction" was unstoppable. His interference indeed got truly ominous for the rest of the WWF roster. Some months back, prior to Survivor Series 97, he proved his resilience when he sat right back up when Mankind hit him with a wrench. Eventually Kane went on to crush him in his first ever PPV match (as Kane). Later, he shocked fans again when he attacked the massive mastodon Vader and destroyed him as well. At No Way Out, Kane absorbed whatever Vader could dish out and finally Tombstoned the 400 pounder for the win; immediately thereafter he knocked Vader out with a wrench and looked positively unbeatable as he left the ring. Even without going through a great range of actions, Kane had an intensity that was clearly evident despite the mask. I thought to myself: "This guy is scary!" Even as deep down I think part of me I began to enjoy seeing the monster dominate. I also recall thinking, rather caught up in the hype: "Forget Mankind, Diesel or Sid; Kane is the Undertaker's greatest adversary to date." And Taker was only person who looked like he could ever possibly challenge Kane at this point. I, for one, couldn't wait for the Deadman to come back.

Undertaker did make a dramatic return before Wrestlemania 14, and the two finally faced off in an epic battle at the event's penultimate match of the night. They put on a show that was mostly brawling, but it was in fact was quite intriguing. In that match, Kane dominated the legendary Phemon like no-one ever had before, or probably ever will again. He wasn't quite as untouchable as before against the Undertaker, but almost. Kane beat on Taker for about 30 minutes. During the match, Undertaker's offence was really very sparse, albeit noticeable. It wasn't exactly a technical masterpiece but I must say it was good fight. Eventually, Taker managed to mount a big comeback and hit his patented tombstone piledriver.

The ref counted: 1-2- whoa! Kane kicked out!

JR's astonished voice echoed everyone's thoughts - "NO-ONE'S EVER DONE THAT! NO-ONE'S EVER KICKED OUT OF THE UNDERTAKER'S TOMBSTONE!"

It was an event of great significance. Throughout the Undertaker's long career, nobody other than the Undertaker himself had ever survived and kicked out of that finisher. Well, technically Hulk Hogan did briefly "no sell" it once in '91. The tombstone was supposedly one of the most powerful moves ever. This made Kane look very strong. He was the real deal, someone who could be potentially on par with a guy who had dominated the "squared circle" for years. The Undertaker looked surprised too; he hit a leg drop and nailed a second Tombstone. Then, amazingly, Kane kicked out again! Unprecedented! Taker was undaunted and hit a clothesline from the top and prepared another Tombstone.

"My god, this'll be the third tombstone! Will it be enough"" - JR

Astoundingly, Kane actually kicked out a third time, only a fraction of a second too late, whereby giving Taker the victory. But Kane wasn't done. After the match was over, he got up and tombstoned his "brother" on a chair and left to his own music. The Undertaker soon sat up himself and glared at Kane and Paul Bearer from the ring. It was obvious this rivalry wasn't finished. The feud continued into late 1998 as the Attitude Era began, which lead them to the first ever Inferno match at Unforgiven. Undertaker was victorious again when he set Kane's arm on fire. Undertaker had seemingly ended the feud on a high. He defeated Kane, set him on fire and finally brutalized Paul Bearer finally getting revenge. It could have been over at Unforgiven, but thankfully it really wasn't. Kane might not have been originally planned to be such a hit, but ultimately he would resonate with the wrestling fans. "Kane" endured longer than any of Glenn Jacobs's other gimmicks, and he and the Undertaker would continue to fight a curious on and off rivalry in the future, sometimes even join forces. It was a relationship that would be one of the most interesting and long term in the company. For the moment however, Kane began his transition into the ranks of the "regular" superstars.

He would become an impressive asset, and one of the top monsters of his time. But honestly, compare him to the Kane of today. You've seen the ridiculous angles he's been put it, the absurd displays that frankly would be pretty humiliating for any wrestler, much less a "monster". You've seen how he loses to the likes of Masters and Carilto, or gets beaten up easily by Batista or Undertaker. Now maybe you can see how much he has fallen from his earlier status. The worst part is, in the coming years, Kane really improved and never really got his just rewards.

To be continued"

by Sev M...


Phyll wrote:
No way kane is one hell of an athlete but taker has beaten the best and kane has faced the best i think. kane isn't as succesful as undertaker because kane is supposed to be the undertakers younger brother so he's not ever gonna reach the heights that taker will. but if kane is ever seriously content with taker 1. he's gonna have to switch shows to smackdown were he'd have alot better competition like:- beniot, JBL, angle, rey, batista also mixing with the new blood like Lashley that would be a great fued Lashley and Kane and of course if it is true about taker retireing at mania 23 i have to see one more undertaker vs kane match and 2 i kno kane has been in inferno matches, cage matches and the elimination chamber i think twice but if kane is gonna content with taker its gotta be in HELL IN A CELL i mean those matches make carears aswell as ending them carears like Tripple H, HBK, mankind, Kurt angle, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and course Taker but i kno if kane reaches the top people will always remember the undertaker its a true fact but kane equally deserves to one day be put in the hall of fame right next to his "brother" Undertaker
Steven Pozaryck wrote:
Hey, Phyll, I understand where you're coming from, but come on. The Undertaker has been more successful than Kane because The Undertaker has been around longer than Kane and, therefore, has sucked up to Vince longer than Kane. Kane's not a serious threat" I would have to think otherwise. Kane is a one time, one day champion. But he is a great athlete and could prove himself on SmackDown better than Raw. The Hell In A Cell match could be memorable, but you have to realize that it ould resemble the more recent ones. There would be no big bumps. Neither would fall from the top or through it. But, you're right, Kane needs to beat The Undertaker at least once. This was a good article and one that is like Kane, very underrated. Just for a side note, with this whole "May 19th" thing, isn't that when Kane's movie debuts" Oh God! This could be just like No Holds Barred with Hulk Hogan. Remember when they brought back Zeus, to the WWF. This could get very, very bad. Nice job with the article.
Richard wrote:
Kane, like Victoria, like Bret Hart, and many others we could name, has been screwed constantly by the WWE. Kane has all the ability and credibility in the world and with the fans, but for reasons unknown, Vinny Mac simply kills the character and makes a joke out of Kane. As you do, I hope that one day soon Vinny Mac comes to his senses and does the right thing. (Trust me, I won't hold my breath) Anyone who can defend John Cena having the WWE title as long as he has had it and makes no case for Kane being champion for a legitmate period of time is simply a female teenie-bopper on speed or a five year old boy with a McDonald's Happy Meal looking for nothing but the toy inside...................
-urq- wrote:
This is just a side note-rant that you made me think of just now...One thing that really does bother me about the WWE is it's character developments at times...I understand heels become faces and vice-versa, and i can get over Adam Bomb becoming Wrath becoming KroniK becoming the guy at the unemployed line.

The thing that gets me though is when they do to much to the same character. First, Kane was burned so bad that his face was scarred (thus the mask) and he couldn't talk. Then, i remember when he first used the electronic talking thing. That was believable enough, and I thought was in fact very intimidating. It was near the time of Scream, so you couldn't help but think of a psychopath killer. Now though, he talks just fine, and his face isn't even really messed up except for different colored contacts. How does long haird, masked, mute Kane become the Kane of today" They can write whatever ridiculous plot twists they want, but what's next, is Trish Stratus actually going to be a man" the writers at WWE and TNA (especially, b/c of the TV) need to keep their stories straight.
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